Two Waitaki Girls’ High School pupils have made the under-19 Te Waipounamu (South Island) Maori netball team.
Mid-courters Nelle Loper (Ngai Tahu) and Laura Dunshea (Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama) will travel to Whangarei to represent the South Island at the Aotearoa Maori Netball tournament over Easter Weekend.
The year 13 pupils (both 17) were selected after impressive performances at a training camp in Oamaru earlier this year.
Although they played for different Waitaki Girls’ High School teams in the North Otago premier competition last year, Nelle for Wildfire and Laura for Lightning Strike, the pair have played together in the school’s tournament A team and the North Otago under-19 team.
With a background in basketball, Nelle started playing netball only three years ago but she did not take long to get up to speed.
“When I first started, I was always getting called for contact,” Nelle said.
At a second training camp in Christchurch, the girls stayed at a marae, which was a reasonably new experience for them.
With the rest of the team, they will perform a waiata at the Aotearoa Maori Netball tournament.
“It’s quite new,” Laura said.
“All the girls are really nice and happy to teach us.
“If you feel uncomfortable they just help you out, which is good.”
As well as learning more about Maori culture and customs, the pair hoped the experience would improve their netball.
“We will take what we learn from the team back here, just different plays and set ups,” Nelle said.
“The trainings have been a really good intensity.”